Magic Valley

Hagerman Wildlife Management Area Fish Opener 2016

Under cloudy skies and warm temperatures the Hagerman Hatchery/Wildlife Management Area fishing season opened. After eliminating the carp from the pond in 2015 and restocking with rainbow trout - it was a popular spot to limber-up the pole and catch a trout.

Joe and the crew will restock the pond with rainbow trout once the opening day rush, subsides.

Cove Arm Access Improvements

Idaho Department of Fish and Game's Construction Crew is putting the finishing touches on access improvements at Cove Arm on C.J. Strike Reservoir.  We anticipate the ramp will be open and ready for use after February 20th.  Improvements included replacement of the boat ramp and installation of new docks - which will be usable by April 1.

Commission extends big game tag auction comment period

Idaho Fish and Game commissioners on Thursday 2/4, postponed a decision to offer big-game tags for auction until their March 9-11 meeting in Boise to allow more time for the public to comment on the proposal.

The extended comment period will close March 4th.

The comment period has reopened.
  1. Auction tag proposal document [PDF 92kb]
  2. Decision postponed, auction tag press release ( 2/4/16 )
  3. Original auction tag press release ( 1/29/16 )
  4. Comment on the proposal

Late January 2016 - It's Time to Play - Go Fish!!

If you want to beat cabin there are great opportunities. Here are some random angling reports from the past week. Some are typical fishing spots for this time of year, but others may cause you to say, "why didn't I think of that?"

Ice Fisheries:
Cascade is "spotty" at best. People are catching a few large perch and rainbow trout through the ice. If you are looking for qualilty and not quantity - Poison Creek is a good spot. Sugarloaf has produced a few more trout but you need a snowmachine to access the reservoir.

Payette Lake as been yielding lake trout. I've seen several in the 20" - 30" range. Jig just off the bottom in deeper water areas (upper 2/3 of the lake). Be careful on the edge of the ice because it is still a little soft.

Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir has produced nice trout through the ice. Fish the bays, such as Gray's Landing with bait. Anglers are finding fish in 10' - 12' of water.

Magic Reservoir is fishing much like Cascade. Fishing has been "spotty" with some anglers being "skunked." Fish bait about 10 - 12' deep for best results.

LIttle Wood Reservoir is a fishery that has yielded nice catches of rainbow trout with most anglers reporting limits followed by catch-and-release action. You need a snowmachine to access the reservoir.

Warm Lake has been good fishing with several reports of anglers catching limits of rainbow trout. Again, you need a snowmobile. Use eggs, corn, worms or maggots for great results.

Mackay Reservoir is a great winter fishery - if you don't mind a slight breeze. Locals are catching rainbow, cutthroat and an occasional perch using bait.

Bank Anglers and Open Water:
C.J. Strike near Air Force Ramp and Cottonwood Boat Launch have both been reported as great locations to catch rainbow trout and perch. Anglers are reporting bait and lures both yielding great results. Lures (e.g. Dare Devil, Rooster tail) have been effective for rainbow trout.

Arrowrock and Lucky Peak have both been good from the bank. Rainbow trout limits are common using mostly bait (worms, corn, etc.).

Be Careful Ice Fishing - January 2016

I recently observed pictures on social media of anglers ice fishing on Lake Lowell near Nampa. Anglers and other recreationists going out on the ice on lower elevation lakes, reservoirs and ponds need to be very careful and be prepared with safety equipment. Have 20'+ of rope, never go alone and maintain distance between yourself and other anglers. If someone falls through the ice - don't rush to the hole. Remain calm and assess your situation before moving. Before attempting a rescue - call for assistance. Spread your weight out on the ice by laying down or rolling to the bank or a safe distance from the hole.  Use a long stick, ladder or rope to assist anyone who's fallen through the ice to get back on top. If you've fallen through the ice, put both arms on the ice and kick like you are swimming. It is much easier to get back on the ice by kicking and pulling yourself forward with the help from a buddy holding a long stick or rope.

As temperatures start to warm, the edges of the ice can become unsafe. Pay attention to your surrounds because conditions can change rapidly.

Learn more about ice fishing in Idaho.

The Bite is on at Cascade Reservoir - 2016 Starts Right

Ice fishing over the weekend (Jan. 2 and 3) at the upper end of Cascade Reservoir was reported to be very good with anglers catching 10 - 12" perch at Poison Creek. Reports were of 150 people at the site Saturday morning. Tackle Tom's and Southwest Idaho Fishing Facebook pages show fish from several satisfied anglers.

Winter on C. J. Strike Reservoir Yields Hot Fishing 2015/2016

On these bitter-cold winter days, it's easy to succumb to retail therapy at your favorite angling outfitter to re-stock for Spring. But while most anglers are enjoying a cup of cheer, you could be out enjoying prime fishing for the many species of game fish that Idaho has to offer!

Todays conditions were brisk: 20F ambient, 38F water temp, and post-frontal. I set out in search of the elusive cold-season Smallmouth Bass (a venture set aside for the self-punishing). My game-plan was to fish legendary CJ Strike with jigs and spoons along the usual target areas: rock bluffs and hard slopes in 30+ ft of water.

I am committed to landing just one bass amidst these winter months. But alas, chance did not hold that for me. I did, however, find myself gripped by adrenaline in the fight of my life against so many of the biggest native Rainbow Trout that this part of the Snake River has to offer. In the following paragraphs, I divulge my secrets intended for the hardy angler.

Sometimes you have to try what feels right and let chance take its course. Convention tells us that nearly all freshwater species are slow and picky this time of year. While this can prove to be true, I am not always in support of that thought.

The trout this time of year are very aggressive on sunny days in dead winter. Yellow Perch and Crappie are also always willing. All can be found in the same areas: deep holes surrounding structural points and dropoffs. My bait of choice was a crawdad plastic on a 1/2 oz. football jig. Electronics are important for the boat-angler, and the name of the game is elevation change.

If you fish from shore on a lake like CJ, you should aim to fish a steep dropoff, as is found on shore access points both above and below the dam. Fish are feeding in slack-current areas alongside main river flow. I fished near the spillway of CJ Strike Dam because it fits this terrain bill to a 'T'. The winning retrieve in today's scenario was a sweeping pull-and-float-down retrieve. Be sure to keep in contact with your lure by maintaining a semi-slack line, as most strikes will occur during the fall. You should cast, let the lure fall to the bottom, the sharply jerk your rod-tip up, and while your lure is falling again, slowly reel in to maintain contact. This jagged up- and-down motion replicates the dying minnows that fish this time of year feed on. Be sure to fan out your casts across all of your available range.

While this style, adapted from bass tactics, requires more work than just casting a crawler on a Carolina rig and waiting for a strike, you will find that you cover more water and your numbers will increase. It is also important to note that--in winter--you are still fishing the "off season," and your expectations should be much lower for numbers. If we only land one fish during this time of year, that is cause for celebration! And should your creel remain empty on the drive home, at least you spent the day out enjoying the beautiful sights offered by Idaho's intriguing winter season! Bring a stack of firewood and some snacks.

Whether you choose to enjoy the day with friends or in the solitude of fishing solo, do so safely and remember, if fishing were easy, they'd call it 'catching'! 

Ryan C.